Loyalist bomb alerts follow attacks on homes

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Loyalists have been blamed for bomb hoaxes at a primary school and at a Sinn Féin constituency office in north Belfast.

The PSNI said they received reports at about lunchtime on Wednesday that two suspicious devices had been left near Holy Cross Girls’ School on the Ardoyne Road, and at Sinn Féin’s Antrim Road office. Searches were conducted but nothing was found.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly condemned those behind the alerts and said the PSNI had told him that loyalists were to blame, not republicans as was previously suggested.

“I was in our constituency office on the Antrim Road when the PSNI contacted me to say they had reports of an explosive device being left in the grounds,” he said.

“The targeting of a primary school in this way is despicable and regardless of whether there was a device or not the disruption and anxiety it will have caused to young children and staff must be condemned.

“The police have told me that they believe it was loyalists who were responsible for both incidents. They are trying to drag our society back and trying to deter public representatives from their work but they will not succeed.”

Holy Cross Girls’ School was at the centre of a sectarian dispute in 2001 when loyalists attacked Catholic schoolgirls walking through their area with blast bombs, bottles and stones, despite the presence of the PSNI.

North Belfast nationalists have long been the target of an onslaught by loyalists trying to force them out of the area. Attacks were recently carried out on three social houses allocated to Catholics in the Ballysillan area.

Daniel Holder of the Committee on the Administration of Justice expressed concern that that the threat of intimidation from loyalists has not been highlighted enough.

He was commenting after a report issued by the Housing Executive attempted to justify a longer waiting list for Catholics with a number of inexplicable pretexts. The body has often been accused of practising discrimination against the nationalist community.

The reasons given for delaying housing for Catholics were “diverging demographics, inward migration, social preference (and capital), the individuals choice, economic pull factors, physical constraints and territorial claims”.

Mr Holder said said there needs to be an urgent review into how sectarian intimidation in housing is being handled.

“The obvious reason why many Catholics cannot move to areas where there is loyalist paramilitary activity is that they fear they will encounter sectarian intimidation,” said Mr Holder.

“It is quite shocking that this official document does even not mention that as a factor.

“However, it is even more shocking that the document goes on to insinuate that Catholics face extreme housing inequality out of some sort of personal choice.”

© 2020 Irish Republican News